Harvesting winter barley (c) Rex Features

Heavy showers have thwarted harvesting attempts in the East of the country today (9 August), but elsewhere farmers have been raring to go.

Central stores in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall had been taking in a mix of winter barley and oilseed rape over the past couple of weeks, said Ian Eastwood, marketing manager at West Country Grain,

“In general, winter barley has done quite well; yields have been in line with the five-year average, which surprised quite a lot of people,” he said.

Early drilled oilseed rape crops had also done well, but the later established crops, which were now starting to be cut, were not quite as good. “One or two samples are coming in with admixture issues now, because maturity is so uneven.”

In Hampshire, Daniel Crawford was combining oilseed rape at Neatham Farms, Alton, Hampshire, and was quite pleased with yields so far.

“We cut 4ha on Wednesday, which did quite well at 4.6t/ha,” he said. “And I’ve literally just started on the headland of another 5ha today, which is reading 5t/ha on the spot combine meter, although it won’t average that.”

Further north, combining had been rained off in Cambridgeshire, although some farmers have managed to get back on this afternoon, said Philip Darke, managing director of Camgrain.

So far the store had taken about 50,000t of grain, of which around 15,000t was winter wheat.

“Yields aren’t anything special, at 7-9t/ha, but most farmers are thankful to get a harvest at all,” he said. “And quality is excellent, with almost all the milling wheat reaching the required specification.”

In Northumberland, Carl Tuer had had a strange start to harvest at Rock Farms, Alnwick, with plenty of breaks in between the combining.

“Last weekend we cut 44ha of Volume winter barley, and then we had nothing to do. Over the past two days we’ve cut 44ha of Cassia, and have nothing again until the middle of next week,” he said.

“It’s very bizarre – normally we start and go right through. By 27 August I can see we’ll have cut 400 acres and then will have 2000 acres that could all do with cutting on virtually the same day.”

But in Scotland, Andrew Peddie was still spraying off oilseed rape at Cornceres Farm, Anstruther, Fife, and didn’t expect to start combining for a week to 10 days.

“It will be a late start,” he said. “I don’t think the rape will be a bumper crop, but it’s looking an awful lot better than we expected it to look at the end of April.”